Monday, April 2, 2012

Myanmar (Burmese) Puerh Tea?

The recent media attention Myanmar (Burma) has been receiving brought back memories of what a wise tea Korean master/ producer had once said...

He inquired, "Where in the world are the highest quality untouched tea plants located?"

I responded, "Korea?"

"Hahahaha.... no, no. They are in Burma, bordering Yunnan." He cheerfully added.

He then went on to say that the old growth big arbour trees that boarder Yunnan are of the same variety but that trees do not make artificial boarders like people do. He also added that as soon as Myanmar becomes open to the outside world he plans on visiting to make local connections, gather mao cha for puerh, and press some cakes.

What is interesting is that there is absolutely no mention in English of puerh ever being produced in Burma. There are a few sites on the web which mention Burmese tea varieties such as green, oolong, and black (See here and here). However, most information on Burmese tea focuses on lahpet tea (tea leaf salad), a type of tea that is unique to Burma as it undergoes pickling and is eaten. No sites even mention Puerh tea and instead focus purely on plantation tea. This makes sense because Burma has a long history of cultivating tea. The legend of how tea came to be cultivated in Burma speaks to tea's historical importance in Burma. As it goes...

Myanmar people believed that tea growing was first initiated and introduced during the Bagan era. Legend has it that King Alaung Sithu, (AD1113-1167) on his majestic royal tour to Namhsan, a small town in Northern Shan State, presented some tea seeds to the local Palaung people in that area. From then onwards, tea growing increases rapidly and flourishes throughout Myanmar in areas with favorable climatic condition. (from Nagar Pyan Tea).

Hummm...

Wonder if that Korea tea master has booked his flights yet?

(World) Peace

11 comments:

Gingko said...

I was told this tea (handled by CNNP) was made in Myanmar. I like it very much.
http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2011/03/concept-tea-6-2008-cnnp-sheng-puerh.html

I think Myanmar has great potential to produce some high quality puerh products that requires arbor tree leaves and intense labor.

Matt said...

Gingko,

Hey, thanks for that link. That post does ring a bell. Great information in there as well.

Peace

discipleofthetealeaf said...

I have been interested in this for some time after returning from Chiang Mai some years back and falling rather in love with Shan art and culture. I have just recently been working on getting my hands on some of the teas from Larsen and Thompson, with the help of a friend in Adelaide, as they don't appear to sell/distro to North America.

I agree with Gingko regarding the potential their teas have in the future as things open up, as long as the demand for them doesn't reach fever pitch and cause stress to their wild trees.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard variations on this sentiment from artists I work with: "that trees do not make artificial boarders like people do"

Matt said...

discipleofthetealeaf,

We are all kind of artists... tea artists.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences of this area.

Peace

Jason said...

The Korean tea masters have came and went in a wonderful event.

Thanks for the reference!

All the Best,
Jason
(the one from that particular Institute)

Matt said...

Jason,

Wish one could have made it. Think you must have got a real good education.

Peace

Alita said...

Interesting. I love puerh but I never heard of a burmese tea.

Matt said...

Alita,

Those old trees don't obey boarders!

Thanks for swinging by.

Peace

Dan Jones said...

Burma really? Wow learn something new and interesting everyday. Thanks for the great info!

Matt said...

Dan Jones,

Next thing you know Daniel is going to be sourcing some of this stuff on his next trip to China! Hahaha...

Peace

pansuriya said...

I live in Burma and speak Burmese. While I have heard of people speak of 'green tea', I have never seen any there. I think it is because oolong tea is so widely drunk that in Burmese it is called 'hot water'. The British used to call it 'China tea', which is a bit out of date. As green tea is much better known that oolong, people who did not know tea seem to have come across that term. However whenever I have been able to ask about its making, I always here it is slightly fermented.

The pickled tea is wonderful! A bit odd on first taste, but with an increasingly fascinating taste.